I'm furious at Will for just showing up at the airport like this. And I am even more angry with my brother for giving him the flight information as I pass Will and walk fast towards the exit. I hoped to get a few more days to think and also talk with Peter properly. I did as my father suggested and called him the previous night to tell him Will had showed up. He was understanding as I assumed but I promised him we'd talk as soon as I got home. But now I am here walking towards the parking garage with my husband that I live separated from for months and have no idea what he wants to tell me. Different scenarios go through my head and I feel a little helpless as I have no clue how to react to any of them. Part of me feels flattered that he wants me back though I am also disappointed it took him this long to realize he misses me.
We reach his rental car and he takes the suitcase from me to put it in the trunk while I get into the car. The drive passes in silence aside from the few words I use to give him directions. I catch myself peering over to him and can't shake the feeling of familiarity being in his presence again gives me. I let my head fall back against the headrest and sigh quietly. I can feel his eyes on me but I keep my gaze forward on the street.
Finally we arrive at my apartment and I tell Will to have a seat while I carry my stuff into the bedroom. I enter the bathroom to wash my hands and stare at my reflection in the mirror. I look exhausted and not like I have just spent a few days under the Californian sun. I dread going back out into the living room and decide to also change my clothes. Once I have replaced my jeans and blouse with more comfy clothes I run out of ideas to postpone that talk any longer. Leaving the bedroom my gaze lingers at the bed and my thoughts go back to the last night I spent in there with Peter. How happy I felt waking up in his arms. And though that was only a few days ago it somehow feels like another lifetime. I force my glance away from the bed and open the door.
"You wanted to talk, so talk, Will." I enter the room and take a seat opposite the couch on which he sits.
"I am sorry, Alicia." a small smile plays on his lips but I think I can see some regret in his eyes.
"For what exactly are you sorry?" I hold his gaze and fold my arms in front of my chest.
"Basically for everything. For saying the things I said and how I said them, for not holding you back when you left and for staying away so long." the smile fades from his face.
"Then why come here now?"
"I guess I needed the time to get clarity about our situation. That I really hurt you by telling you I never wanted kids."
I nod at his statement but don't say anything.
"I know that now as I had a lot of time to think. And I hope it is not too late for trying to win you back." he avoids looking at me and stares on the floor.
"Did you...mean it?" I try to hold my voice steady but I fail miserably. I have no idea why I fear his answer suddenly as I was so sure of it since I left him.
"No." he finally answers, lifting his head again to look at me.
"But it sounded like you did mean it back then." my voice sounds normal again though my heart is racing and I still have no idea what to make of all this.
"I know it did and I'm sorry for that. If I had known what it'd do to you I would've never said it. Please believe me, Alicia."
I nod slowly and search his face for any sign he might be lying. But he keeps looking into my eyes and I can't see any hint of insincerity in his.
"Then why did you?"
"I thought a lot about that and I guess I got afraid of any changes to our life. And terrified at the thought of becoming a father. You know my dad wasn't the best role model and I fear I'd be as bad as he was."
I nod again as I suddenly feel a lump in my throat. And once more the thought of having left too soon captures me.
"But your leaving forced me to think and reevaluate my options and I am here now because my love for you is bigger than my fear of failing as a father. If I still have a chance with you I won't screw up again, Alicia."
"I have no idea what to say about this, Will." I softly shake my head and close my eyes, trying to make some sense of what he just told me.
"I don't want an answer right away, honey." I hear him stand up and walk a few steps. My eyes fly open as I feel him take my hand in his.
"I know you have adjusted to your new life here and I won't take this from you. We can stay here in Chicago, if you want to." he squeezes my hand lightly and smiles.
"How? Why? Your firm is in Baltimore." I look at him and know the confusion I feel is written all over my face.
"I will open up another office here in Chicago. We landed another big client after you left and you know I always dreamed about a second office and now I can make this a reality." the smile spreads over his whole face now and I feel proud of him that he fulfilled his dream. The feeling confuses me even more and suddenly all I know is that I need to be alone.
"Can you please leave now, Will. I need to think." I pull my hand from his and get up.
"Sure, honey. Take all the time you need." he leans in and places a kiss on my cheek. I try to ignore the feeling of familiarity and security that captures me once his lips touch my skin but I fail and realize that I am not over him.
"Bye, Will." I remain in my spot while he heads for the hallway to leave. I hear him open the door.
"What would change if I said yes to trying again, Will?" I call after him and walk into the hallway. He stops and turns to face me.
"What would be different as you are about to get a second firm running. How do I know we won't end up like this again because we come second again to the job?" I lean in the doorway and watch him curiously.
"It'll be different 'cause we have changed and won't make the same mistakes again." he smiles at me before he leaves and shuts the door behind him. I slide down the wall and come to sit on the floor burying my head in my hands.
I have no idea how long I stand here at the window watching the sky. Probably hours as the sun has gone down in the meantime and I can see the first stars emerge. That is not how I imagined this evening, spending it alone at home. I didn't plan anything special for tonight as I figured Alicia might be tired after the long flight. But I would've been content just spending time with her after the few days we only talked on the phone. I missed her badly. A feeling that is new to me but tells me all the more that I really love her.
I wasn't overly worried when she called me last night and told me her husband had come to see her. I had anticipated that for a while now. Ever since she told me they hadn't spoken since she left him. But I never really reckoned for him to show up actually wanting her back after all she told me about the reason she broke it off. I still can't shake the feeling of disappointment that lingers in me since she left me at the airport to go with him. But it is not the action in itself but that she only told me about his real motive seconds before she walked away with him. She had ignored that fact in our conversation the previous night but promised we'd talk about it when she was back. But instead she is with him now and I have to struggle hard to keep the images that come to my mind away.
I finally turn from the window and walk a few steps into the dark living room. My gaze stops at the rose I brought her that I simply tossed on the coffee table after I got home. I walk over to pick it up and my first impulse is to throw it in the trash. But midway to the kitchen I reconsider. I retrieve a glass from the cupboard, fill it with water and put the flower in it to place it on the table once more. I let myself fall on the sofa. I find the remote and flip aimlessly through the channels. Nothing captures my attention though I yearn for something to distract my thoughts from Alicia and what might be going on right now between her and her husband.
A noise from the hallway makes me stop my channel switching and I mute the TV. There it is again and now I can tell it's a soft knock on the door. I check my watch and decide it is too late for any visitor. Not that I am in the mood to see anyone now anyhow.
I turn on the sound of the TV again and continue my search for something that will keep me occupied or help me fall asleep. But whoever is in front of my door won't give up as the knocking gets louder and more persistent. I finally get up from the couch to open the door and tell that intruder to get lost. I'm in the middle of the hallway as I hear Alicia's voice from the other side of the door.
"Peter, it's me. Please open the door. I know you're home."
I freeze on the spot and honestly have no idea if I should open or not. It seems like my head and my heart are fighting a battle inside me. My mind tells me to postpone seeing her as I fear the worst for what she might tell me. And my heart urges me to open that door as fast as possible and pull her into my arms. I am still not sure which side is winning as I feel myself moving towards the door to turn the knob.
I can hear the TV from inside as I walk towards Peter's apartment door and am thankful he is home. I knock once and wait. The TV noise from inside stops so I knock once more. I can't hear a thing from the inside now and I get nervous. Even more nervous than I have been since I decided to come here in the first place. I know it wasn't right how I left Peter standing at the airport to go with Will. But I needed to get this talk with Will behind me. Not that I know now what to do but at least I have clarity about what Will wants. Maybe coming here was not the best idea but all I can think about now is burying myself in Peter's arms like this would make everything all right again. I know it won't but hopefully I can forget the turmoil going on in my life for a few hours. I stare at the door as if my sheer will power could open it but I hear no steps nearing it. Instead I can hear the TV again and I realize he is not going to open. I knock again. More persistent now. But even after several knocks the door stays closed.
"Peter, it's me. Please open the door. I know you're home."
I try another approach and call out to him. The thought he might know it's me and that is the reason he is not opening shoots through my mind as soon as the words have left my lips. I think about leaving to stop making a fool out of myself when I see the door open.
"Hey!" is all I manage as soon as the door is completely open. He looks at me and I can't read his expression. I just realize he still wears the same clothes from this afternoon and the apartment behind him is bathed in darkness.
"Hi!" he leans in the door frame and folds his arms in front of his chest. I sense that somehow I am the last person he wants to see right now.
"I am so sorry, Peter. I shouldn't have left you like that." I want to close the distance between us but his posture and the indifferent look on his face makes me stay where I am.
"You have every right to be angry with me. But can you let me in, please, so we can talk?" I step forward a bit and to my surprise he turns and nods his head which I take as permission to enter.
I walk past him and as soon as I am inside he shuts the door and grabs my arm to pull me against him. I gently cry out in surprise but as I look up into his eyes I can see him smile at me. The next second I can feel his lips on mine. I sigh into the kiss and wrap my arms around him to bring him even closer to me. His hands wander from my arms to my back and one finds its way on my neck where he softly caresses my skin. The kiss is far from gentle and I get the feeling he reclaims me as his again. I respond eagerly as this seems to be what I need. We break for air and I rest my face on his chest.
"I am sorry, Peter." I whisper and search for his hands.
"It's okay, babe. You're here now. That's all that matters." he murmurs into my ear.
Our lips meet again, softer and slower this time. I feel him pushing down my coat but I grab his hands and break the kiss.
"Can you just hold me tonight?" I peer upwards and see a glimmer of disappointment in his eyes.
"Don't get me wrong, I..." he silences me with a quick kiss.
"Sure." he smiles understandingly at me and we walk to his bedroom still holding hands.
A while later I lay snuggled up to him in bed. I listen to Peter's even breathing and I feel like I can put my mind to rest for the first time in days. And though I was sure before that all I wanted was to spend the night in his arms I suddenly want more. The feeling of his fingertips on my skin just beneath the hem of the shirtsleeve he gave me to sleep in sends tingles through my whole body. I let my hand wander over his stomach and slide it under his shirt. I hear him inhale sharply as my fingertips glide upwards over his chest. I feel his gaze on me and peer up to look in to his eyes. I can see some confusion in them and I smile at him while I shift so my upper body comes to rest on his chest.
"You don't need to..." This time I shut him off with a kiss, but one that has us both panting for air a short while later.
I continue to trail his chest with my hands and feel his do the same under my shirt on my back. I place another soft kiss on his lips before I sit up and remove my shirt and let it fall to the floor next to the bed. I watch his eyes wander over my naked upper body and I could lose myself in the love and desire I can see in them. He gently reaches for my hand and pulls me back down. Our lips meet again and his hands roam freely over my naked back and sides, stroking my breasts lightly, making me moan into the kiss. I gently tug at the hem of his shirt and it soon follows mine to the floor.
It is already light outside when I wake. I turn around but find the place next to me deserted. I sit up and run one hand through my hair as my gaze wanders around the room. Alicia's clothes are gone from the chair she put them on last night. All I can see there is the shirt she slept in neatly folded on the seat. All this tells me she's gone. I feel the emptiness take a hold of me. I slowly get up and walk over to the chair. I pick up the shirt. I still can smell her scent in the fabric. I head for the living room still harboring a glimpse of hope she might be in there or in the kitchen. But both rooms are empty. I sit down on the couch sighing heavily when my gaze gets stuck on the water glass I put the rose in the other night. It's empty too. Alicia must have taken it. I still clutch the shirt in my hand and can't shake the feeling of goodbye grabbing my heart.